Religion: Fresh Look at the Exile Priest

In his last months, he lived in a drab New York City hotel room, forbidden by his superiors in the Roman Catholic Church to work in his beloved Paris, surrounded by few friends. He died at 73, on Easter Sunday, in 1955. The earth at the cemetery near Poughkeepsie was still frozen; when he was finally buried, only gravediggers were in attendance. Yet the gaunt figure of this French priest in exile, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, looms large over the intellectual history of 20th century Catholicism.

At his death Teilhard was known to the public largely as the "missing link" priest, the...

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